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A student-led group project from HIST 246

Blog Post #12

April 21st, 2011 by cvc1

Due to the amount of school work that I need to complete this week compared with next week, I have chosen to focus on research after this week.  I have looked at further dates about 19th century immigration policy, but most of what I found, and most of what I know, directly relates to limiting Chinese immigration.  While it is fairly clear to me that the exclusion of Chinese immigrants led to a wider acceptance of Irish immigrants into the “melting pot,” I am still determining whether or not I can make that sufficiently clear to justify placing something like the 1875 Immigration Act as an event on the timeline.  Next week I will add my dates to the timeline document and finally make my way to the Woodson Research Center to look through Muir’s notes on Dowling.

Tony Horwitz’s writing on divisions in the community of Salisbury, North Carolina highlights the essential issues in the ways in which groups like the UDC choose to remember the Civil War- or, perhaps more accurately, live the Civil War today.  As seen in Thomas Brown’s book on Civil War commemoration art, much of the funding for Civil War confederation comes from these heritage groups.  Interestingly, Brown did not explore the relationship between how the creators envisioned the image and how other communities saw it as they negotiated with it in their own daily lives.  Horwitz takes on this issue in a way that historians are often unable to.  He directly talked with people about how they feel about the commemoration of the Civil War in the South.  Although many African Americans were “indifferent” about events like Lee-Jackson gatherings, “one man didn’t share this indifference,” citing issues like compromise through fellowship and idolatry (43).  This concept of idolatry ties in rather well with his earlier revelation that a member of the UDC stopped being a Methodist in order to focus on researching the Civil War because “there wasn’t time for both” (33).

These groups teach their children to follow the same idolatry of the “War Between the States” without providing a full, broad historical context for them to understand.  However, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, there are few schools that provide a full, broad historiography to their students rather than teaching to the test.  The issue that plagues these groups is not that they fail to teach their children everything but that they teach them ideals that keep them separate from the rest of the community.  Rather than coexisting, they are used as mouthpieces for a side of a war that ended almost 150 years ago.  The Civil War was a historical event, and it should be regarded as such.  As long as groups like the UDC and the UCV exist in a vacuum, they cannot rightly expect to be accepted by the communities they live in.  By living in the present and coexisting, perhaps there can be a new form of Civil War commemoration that respects the nuanced struggles inherent in the events related to it.

Blog Post #12

April 21st, 2011 by vma2

For the timeline project this week, I was tasked with collecting more research on dates between the Emancipation Proclamation and 1910. In particular, I sought out events having to do with Reconstruction, especially in Texas. Tuesday’s class definitely helped me in that respect, giving me plenty of events to start with, such as the passing of the Terrell laws. In fact, I was able to find some interesting primary sources for these events, including a manuscript outlining the Terrell laws printed in 1908, a short article advertising Henry Smith’s lynching in Paris, Texas the next day, and a digital copy of Ida B. Wells’ Southern Horrors. Along with these dates, I was able to fill out my time period quite nicely, although I may still have to do some research before our group meets to put the timeline together for good. Next, I will probably focus on fleshing out my descriptions of the events where necessary and formatting my entries so that they will work better on the timeline. In fact, after playing with the software a little more this week, I have come across a few aspects I’d like to tweak, so my next step may also include researching the software some more and trying to get it right before we all sit down to deal with it.

Regarding Southerner’s ability to honor their ancestors tastefully, I certainly think it’s possible, but taking this class has caused me to realize just how unrealistic some Southerners can be with their commemorations, especially in this day and age. I don’t think Southerners should be forced to forget about their ancestors because they fought against the Union, as that would be unfair; it is only human nature to be proud of descending from a soldier who risked or gave his life for a cause he believed in. However, it is also clear that the cause Confederates were fighting for was not one to be happy about today. As conflicting as the situation may seem, I see there being two options Southerners should pursue. The first is to commemorate the men of the Confederacy who deserve praise simply for being great men, the Lees and Jacksons of the war. Brown points out that even Northerners “have regarded Lee as an important symbol” (Brown, 80), which comes at no surprise. Even in taking this class, we are all commemorating the memory of these Confederate heroes at least somewhat (we are working on four separate projects about one Confederate hero, after all).

This brings me to my second point: Southerners have the right to honor their ancestors, but they need to be less biased and more educated about it. Horwitz, in discussing the catechism for the Children of the Confederacy, finds errors in its facts like claiming that “Federal supplies and forces greatly outweighed and outnumbered the Confederate forces” at Gettysburg when, in fact, Horwitz points out that they “weren’t badly outmanned.” (Horwitz, 37) A group interested in history should not be spreading such falsities, especially to children, just to make it seem like their ancestors were better people. If Southerners truly want to honor their forebears without insulting blacks, they need to accept that slavery was a main issue during the Civil War and that their ancestors were almost certainly racist, but that it was a product of the era, instead of hiding behind vague redefinitions of the war. By no means should they be proud of their ancestors’ racism, but it is only after accepting it as fact that Southerners can ever hope to make the argument that their forefathers were heroes in any sense.

Final Blog Post

April 20th, 2011 by jcd2

This week, our group has been researching the dates that we chose to go on the timeline in more detail. Furthermore, our plan is to have most of these dates up on the spreadsheet for the timeline by Wednesday because we are meeting either Wednesday or Thursday to begin constructing the timeline. I researched the dates between 1910-present. In addition to the events related to Dowling, I researched the Civil Rights Movement further and how it directly relates to Houston/Texas. By doing this, I found three important events for the timeline: the Texas Southern University sit-in, the brutal attack of Felton Turner, and the election of Barbara Jordan to the Texas Senate. I believe these events could help explain the attitude towards Dowling’s memory during the Civil Rights Movement.

The way in which Southerners remember the Confederate cause is directly linked to what they believe caused the Civil War. Horwitz mentions that the Confederate Catechism, used to teach children about the Civil War, lists the causes of the Civil War as “the disregard of those in power for the rights of the Southern states” (Horwitz 37). Furthermore, Tarlton, one of Horwitz’s interviewees, says his ancestors fought the Union because they “felt oppressed by the government” and to preserve “their honor as men” (Horwitz 35). However, Manning notes Southerners believed the “survival –of themselves, their families, and the social order–depended on slavery’s continued existence” (Manning 32). Manning concludes that Confederate soldiers accepted “abolition meant disaster because it would destroy the social order, undermine men’s very identities, and unleash race war on unprotected families” (Manning 80). Thus, Manning provides strong evidence that the primary motivator for Southerners to go to war was the sense “that they must fight to prevent the abolition of slavery” (Manning 138). However, as Horwitz recalls, many Southerners emphasize Southern honor and states’ rights in order to downplay the role of slavery during the Civil War. Thus, to appropriately remember the Confederate cause, Southerners need to accept the role slavery played. However, in order to do this, Southerners must associate their cause with defending a morally evil institution, which, in turn, would disgrace the Confederate heritage and offer a stark contrast with modern society’s disapproval of slavery.

In regard to Horwitz’s question, I believe that King does a great job in answering how white Southerners can honor their Confederate ancestors without insulting black Southerners: “Remember your ancestors, but remember what they fought for too, and recognize it was wrong” (Horwitz 44). Frederick Douglas’s speech for Memorial Day, 1878, reminded me of King’s words, as Douglas said, “there was a right side and a wrong side in the late war, which no sentiment ought to cause us to forget, and while today we should have malice toward none, and charity toward all, it is no part of our duty to confound right with wrong, or loyalty with treason”. With this is mind, I believe the most appropriate way to commemorate the Civil War in the South is to acknowledge that slavery did play an instrumental role in why the Civil War was fought and to acknowledge blacks’ achievements during the war. Furthermore, we must remember the most important outcome of the Civil War: emancipation. I am not opposed to Southerners remembering their ancestors for their bravery and sacrifice; however, this must be remembered in the context of slavery. To ignore the ramifications of slavery would be an erroneous error. However, to criticize Confederates because they sacrificed for a cause they believed in would be a mistake as well. Thus, there exists a fine line for appropriately commemorating the Civil War in the South. Southerners should be able to honor their ancestors for their valor and zeal to sacrifice for a cause they believed in; however, to do this without mentioning slavery or acknowledging that a “right side” existed would be an egregious misrepresentation of history.

To appropriately honor the Confederacy and its heroes, statues should depict a hero like Lee prewar or postwar. In this manner, the statue can still represent a Confederate hero without emphasizing their activity during the Civl War and association with slavery. In the case of Robert E. Lee, Brown acknowledges “many citizens continued to regard Lee as an important historical figure who did not warrant civi repudiation, but his positions on race and slavery had clearly become a liability to his reputation rather than an asset” (Brown 104). Hence, a statue of Lee as President of Lexington College could still honor him without identifying Lee with the defense of slavery.

Checking in

April 18th, 2011 by Caleb McDaniel

Your contract indicates that you all were scheduled to have a meeting on Thursday to finalize the dates. Did that meeting happen? How did it go? So far I only see Juri’s dates on the Google Spreadsheet (and see my comments to his post for an issue that you all need to discuss more fully).

Timeline Group Contract

April 18th, 2011 by Caleb McDaniel

Our mission is to build a timeline that places Dick Dowling’s story in a broader historical context, including events in the history of immigration and Irish heritage, the history of Houston as a city, and the Civil Rights movement. We hope to show how broader, sensitive social issues might have shaped the way he was remembered over time. Events both from Dowling’s life, the battle of Sabine Pass, and Dowling’s memory will be included to show how the significant events in his life changed over time.

By choosing which events and dates will go onto the timeline, we are demonstrating our analysis and emphasizing our main objective.

Categories: events in U.S. history, events in Texas history, Dowling’s life, remembering Dowling, Dowling’s statue

(As specifically as possible, list the tasks that will need to be done and who will be responsible for each of them.)
-Victor will create the shared Google Docs account as well as set up the TimeLine profile
-Research dates relevant to 1837-1867: Clarissa
-Research dates relevant to 1868-1910: Victor
-Research dates relevant to 1911-present: Juri
-Meet as a group to discuss which of these events make the cut
-Evenly split up the dates that are chosen and research these dates
-Make the timeline as a group

(List any online services or software tools you will use, and provide specific information about the accounts that created them and/or where resources you are generating as a group will be located.)
-Google Docs (shared account): Victor
-TimeLine Software (create the profile): Victor
-Houston Public Library Archives
-Library Assignment 1
-Blog Posts

(What are the intermediate deadlines you are setting as a group to make sure all the tasks are done by the final deadline.)
-April 14: Thursday 6 pm: Meet to discuss which dates make the cut
-April 22: Research those dates that have been approved to go on the timeline
-April 29: Begin constructing the timeline

Blog Post #11

April 14th, 2011 by cvc1

This week I was assigned with looking up and recording dates from 1837 to 1867.  These dates encompassed Dowlings life, the Civil War and Lincoln’s presidency.  It became fairly clear that even deciding which dates to search for became a challenge and a method of selection for how the timeline was to be presented.  Although relevant dates about Lincoln and the Union were fresh and obvious in my mind, those for the Confederacy were not and it became somewhat difficult to decide which dates would serve as a fair counterpoint to dates about the Union.

I also set up a temporary spreadsheet for our dates.  This spreadsheet contains a chronological list of the dates that we came up with as well as links to some of the documents that we thought were important.  By using this spreadsheet we can look at all of the dates we found, including the ones we determined to be unimportant, and can also bring dates back that do not make it on the main spreadsheet.  Articles that seem important will be attached to the relevant important date and provide context for what was going on during that time.  Moving forward my next step is to further research dates that I found as well as find dates regarding the Confederacy and Irish immigrant history.

Progress Report 2

April 14th, 2011 by vma2

This past week, I was tasked with finding dates to add to our timeline from 1868 to 1910. In my initial search, I was not able to find too many events during this time period related to Dowling’s life. There were a few instances where Dowling was honored in some way, such as the speech delivered by Jefferson Davis in 1882, but for the most part the only truly significant date was the unveiling of the Dowling monument in 1905 here in Houston. Of course, there are many more events tied to the monument than just the unveiling, but our group has decided to avoid including too many extraneous events (like committee meetings or discussions with granite suppliers) unless we find them to be necessary to the overall discussion of Dowling’s story we hope to convey through our timeline. I also took a look at external dates, such as those associated with Reconstruction (13th, 14th, and 15th amendmends) and some Texas history (such as its readmission into the Union) that would fit into our timeline overall. As a group, we agreed that we all needed to look for some more events similar to these.

I was also able to get the initial technological steps done for our timeline, such as starting a spreadsheet in Google Docs for our group, which can be found here. I also created a simple HTML file for our timeline, which I have tested locally. However, I’m unsure of how I should proceed from there; our group needs a way to host that HTML file. Still, we can get plenty of work done on the timeline without having to worry about that detail, so we should be good for now. It’s just as easy as the tutorial suggests to make a timeline tailored to our preferences, although unfortunately it seems that we won’t have much control over how the content is displayed (beyond categories). This was something else our group discussed at our most recent meeting: we decided to categorize the timeline’s events into events in U.S. history, events in Texas history, Dowling’s life, remembering Dowling, and Dowling’s statue. Some events are likely to exist in multiple categories, but we feel these will provide the best options for any given user who might visit our timeline in search of information about Dowling.

Blog Post 11

April 13th, 2011 by jcd2

This week our group met to finalize the contract and discuss what our next step would be. We decided to split up Dowling’s life and dates associated with Dowling into three categories chronologically. My category is from 1911 to the present. Essentially, our goal was to find as many dates as possible that were relevant to Dowling. From here, we would decide as a group which dates were vital to meeting our objective for the timeline and thus, should go on the timeline. The following dates are the dates that I found for my time period:

10/1-2/1925: This article lists the members of the Davis Guards. Perhaps this article can shed light on the disagreements over the members of the Davis Guards?
8/25/1929: This article details how it’s unjust that Dowling has an unmarked grave in St. Vincent’s Cemetery.
11/3/1935: This article describes the dedication of a monument placed in St. Vincent’s Cemetery honoring Dowling’s final resting place. The event was held on November 2, which is All Soul’s Day, a Roman Catholic Holy Day. This particular event demonstrates Dowling’s Catholic faith.
9/14/1939: This article describes the statue’s move from in front of City Hall to Sam Houston Park. The article mentions that the statue was moved to make way for the construction of bus sheds in front of the old City Hall.
3/17/1940: A group of about 50 members of the United Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy gathered to dedicate Sam Houston Park as the new site of the Dowling memorial. March 16 was declared to be Dick Dowling Day.
1955-1968: Civil Rights Movement. We should look for events in Houston during the Civil Rights Movement that we can relate to Dowling’s memory.
1957: Dowling statue put in storage because of the renovation of the Noble-Kellum House in Sam Houston Park.
4/27/1958: This article gives the history of the Dowling statue and plans for its future location. The article also reports that the Ancient Order of Hibernians presented Dowling statue to the city. This is not true as the Dick Dowling Monument Association did. The association is comprised of members of Dick Dowling Camp, U.C.V., Hibernians, and the Emmet Council.
4/27/1958: The city of Houston is asked to reserve space in Hermann Park for a statue of George Hermann. The location favored by the trustees of the Hermann estate is the one City Parks and Recreation Director Gus Haycock had picked out for the statue of Dowling.
5/19/1958: This article says the statue is to be erected in Hermann Park in about two weeks. The article notes the statue cannot be rededicated until the paving of the Outer Belt is complete. Haycock believes the location by the Hermann Loop and Outer Belt is ideal for the Dowling statue.
8/23/1958: Dowling statue’s sword stolen for a fifth time. More importantly, the article points out the importance of Hibernians in financing and maintaining the statue.
9/8/1958: Memorial services commemorating the Battle of Sabine Pass were concluded at the Dick Dowling Statue in Hermann Park.
4/26/1960: Neta Taylor claims that the United Confederate Veterans of Dick Dowling Camp started the project and not the Hibernians.
1989: Larry Miggins and others organized the Dick Dowling Heritage Society.
3/10/1997: Letter from Tuam Town Commissioners to Dick Dowling Irish Heritage Society congratulating the society on the occasion of the rededication of the Dowling Memorial planned for March 16, 1997.
3/16/1997: Rededication ceremony occurs. We may need to go more in depth in regard to this date and look for specific meetings and ceremonies that occurred.
3/17/2005: Dick Dowling Statue in Hermann Park celebrated 100th anniversary of its unveiling on St. Patrick’s Day in 1905.

After we discuss which dates make the cut, our next step is to divide the remaining dates evenly. From here, each member of our group will further research the dates assigned to them. This research entails writing a short summary which could possibly be used in the timeline as well as locating primary sources which will be used to verify our claims.

Interests in Sharecropping

April 10th, 2011 by cvc1

After slavery was abolished, sharecropping took its place.  In an attempt to prolong the plantation system, white planters loaned out their land to freedmen in exchange for a portion of their profits.  Eric Foner creates a complex portrayal of this system.  Although the system was exploitative in the same manner as slavery, there were more opportunities for controlling things like work hours.  However, there is little evidence, if any, presented that demonstrates that the freedmen involved in sharecropping recognized those benefits as actually being beneficial to their needs and desires.

Eric Foner demonstrates with ease the different economic ways in which former enslaved gained greater autonomy due to the sharecropping system.  Indeed, he shows that planters felt somewhat threatened by the system and that it “did not ensure the requisite degree of control over the labor workers” (45).  He is similarly able to point to diaries of white farmers who complain about the laziness of the freedmen sharecroppers because of their desire to be paid and their lack of willingness to work as many hours as the enslaved did (88).  Such stories certainly show that the sharecroppers were able to exert control over the situation they were more or less forced into, but they show nothing of the views of the freedmen themselves.

Outside observers discussed the desire of freedmen to own their own land, something that was essentially an impossibility in the South (44).  The voices of the freedmen themselves are far more infrequent in Foner’s book, something that no doubt reflects the availability of written sources on the subject.  When the voice of the freedman was recorded in Foner’s book it would almost invariably describe the difficulty of their situation rather than extolling the potential benefits of controlling land (71).  Therefore, while it is fairly easy to understand that from a historical perspective the situation may have been objectively somewhat better, there is little evidence to show that the freedpeople themselves saw the situation as anything more than a continuation of exploitation.  By rebelling against the continued attempts by white planters to keep sharecroppers from obtaining any sort of wealth, freedpeople were able to exert their own form of control, yet this rebellion shows that clearly something was wrong with the system.  There were some marginal benefits and improvements in the sharecropping system, but it would be hard to prove that freedpeople viewed it as anything other than another obstacle to their desire to own land of their own.

Sharecropping in the Post-Emancipation South

April 10th, 2011 by vma2

Eric Foner’s Nothing But Freedom: Emancipation and its Legacy describes the post-emancipation lives of freed slaves in the South. As such, there is a need to focus on the change in the way labor was handled in the South, since emancipation brought about a major change in the way planters would be able to man their plantations. Foner describes many different methods by which white planters attempted to employ former slaves so as to save their plantations during reconstruction, but one that seems to rise above the rest was sharecropping. In his numerous examples, Foner seems to suggest that freedpeople preferred sharecropping to working for wages or under any other system; sharecropping allowed them to be autonomous to an extent, as opposed to working for wages and, therefore, under the thumbs of their former masters still.

Foner first describes the low country slaves’ way of life as one where slaves had “control over their own time and the pace of work”, since these plantations were organized on the task system and therefore set the slaves to work on preordained tasks per day, giving them a chance at free time or supplementary work when finished. (78) Given that this was in the antebellum South, this system of labor seemed about as forgiving as slavery could be to begin with. But even these slaves sought freedom, and “The Civil War shattered the golden age of the antebellum rice kingdom.” (79)

After the war, these newly freed slaves “assumed that emancipation would not mean a loss of privileges enjoyed under slavery.” (86) Therefore, sharecropping was appealing; former slaves in South Carolina would “positively refuse to make any contracts unless they have the control of the crops themselves; the planters to have little or nothing to say in the matter, but to receive a portion of the crop raised.” (87) Even as planters sought to introduce wage systems in order to regain control of their plantations, freedmen refused to sign such contracts, forcing planters’ hands as time ran out in a season to accept crop-sharing.

Meanwhile, plantations that did not employ a system of sharecropping had more issues with workers. Wage laborers would strike for higher wages and cash payments, as opposed to the check system which required workers to exchange them for cash at plantation stores. It was obvious to these freedmen that the planters were trying to gain as much control over their laborers as possible, but given how necessary their work was to the crop, laborers realized that they could easily strike and bring about change in their favor.

Therefore, it seems that, given how former slaves actually sought out and preferred a system that allowed them as much autonomy as possible and the strikes that formed out of plantations that employed wage systems, some freedpeople did view sharecropping as a preferable system. And, given that planters actively tried to avoid sharecropping because it did not allow them much control, it is not surprising that the system was popular with former slaves.